A Major Gale in Allendale

 #2 Spartans, #4 Lakers Prepare for Battle

Traditional powers clash on December 3rd when the #2 ranked Michigan State Spartans head into Allendale to take on the #4 ranked Grand Valley State Lakers. The Lakers are 4-0 in the young season, having already beaten arch-rival Saginaw Valley State twice. Michigan State is 5-1 and recently won the MSU Invite and beat Big Ten rival Ohio State. The winner of this match may be in the driver’s seat towards getting a good seed at the always important Michigan Dodgeball Cup, seeing as the winner will be the highest ranked Michigan team going into the new year.

The Spartans have never beaten the Lakers, but this could be their best opportunity yet. Senior Ian Childs says We’ve got a lot of returning talent this year. We’re motivated to win. This season is the last chance for our seniors to win a title and the road to the title goes through GVSU.” Michigan State’s Zach Bauer agrees with Childs, saying that “GVSU is a good team and they don’t make many mistakes. It is important for us to play to our potential and minimize any mistakes. We have the ability to win, we just have to show up and play.”

Grand Valley hasn’t played Michigan State in their home gym since 2009, so it should be interesting to see how MSU does on the road in a hostile environment. The Spartans have had some trouble on the road in the past, and GVSU has played phenomenal at home throughout the history of their program. The Lakers are trying to build off a season where they won the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, but lost in the National Championship game in a thriller to Central Michigan. After losing players like Jimmy Stokes, Caleb James, and Greg Trippiedi some thought this may be a rebuilding year for Grand Valley, but sophomore Mark Trippiedi has a solid team that has already won the Bowling Green Invite. The Lakers expect to be there for a chance at a 5th National title in April. GVSU and MSU will also have a JV match, which could shed some light on the futures of these two programs. All eyes in the dodgeball world will be on the Grand Valley-Michigan State duel for this match with huge National implications.

U of Maryland – 3 Teams join the NCDA

Kent State Dodgeball’s Kyle FitzPatrick

5:30pm November 12th 2011. Fifteen Kent State students assemble in a parking lot preparing for a 6.5 hour drive to College Park, Maryland. It’s our 3rd tournament in 4 weeks and the roster is thin. Many of our usual players drop for a variety of reason: a lack of $$ due to the other tournaments, being overrun by projects and exams for school, and a flu like illness that eliminates some of our dependable players. Our Co Captain Ryan is on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury occurring at the MSU Invite. So we looked to some of our untested freshmen to step up and fill the much needed roster spots. We arrive at the hotel around 11:30 and cram all 15 members of our family into 2 smaller than average hotel rooms. As we warm up in the Armory (yes, the name of the building we played Dodgeball was the Armory, bad ass). A sense of nervousness, that subconscious the whole trip becomes very tangible. We are the only battle tested team in the tournament, but that didn’t necessarily mean we were the best. For all we knew we were walking into a slaughter from unknown east coast teams. It was the 1st tournament that I didn’t have any Intel going into the games. I didn’t know how the teams played, what numbers were gunners, who the catchers were, and tricky players to keep an eye on… nothing. It lead to a swirling combination of frustration and excitement.

Our 1st opponent of the day was James Madison University, They sported sleeveless (basketball style) Dodgeball jerseys, DePaul would have been proud. JMU was a very passionate team that never gave up in any of their matches. They seemed to change their strategy multiple times throughout a single point. Sometimes they would hang back making clutch catches, until they had 7-8 balls then they would storm forward and perform an all out team throw towards ½ the court. And other times they were right in your face coming at you no matter how many players stood against them. Hess, 69, backwards hat, and the Assistant captain (sorry I forgot most of the numbers) individually stood out, but the entire team played well. Especially considering it was their 1st match ever.

Towson University was next on the schedule. We lost the 1st point in about 3 minutes. These guys started the game like bats out of hell; I’m talking about some pedal to the metal Dodgeball! That first point was probably one of the most chaotic games I had ever played. Their entire team was relentlessly attacking from every direction. I don’t recall anyone on their team pinching, but afterwards some of us talked about how to develop throws and get used to pinching/gripping. They slowed down a little bit throughout the match. But a team with such a high paced playing style combined with the knowledge of the pinch could turn into a dangerous ambush style team.

University of Maryland was our last opponent of the day. When you line we lined up against this team there was a distinct feeling that they had done this before. They looked confident, most of them had a very athletic build, and their Jerseys (black with red) were rather reminiscent of SVSU’s. Again Kent lost the 1st point. This team had some real potential for individual talent, 00 and 4 had some serious hands, while 8, 20, Chris V all had rather impressive throws, although they were plagued by the inaccuracy of adapting to the pinch. After watching and playing against this team I got the feeling that they would quickly adapt and over a year or two come to thrive in the NCDA, mainly due to the athletic potential of their team.

These teams are 3 great additions to the NCDA, and as a born and raised Delawarean, I personally am very excited to see the potential rapid growth of the NCDA on the east coast. It was a great weekend, with many 1st’s. JMU, UMD, UMD JV, & TU all played in their 1st NCDA tournament. All (except UMD JV) got their 1st victory, as well as their 1st losses (but that’s part of the process). And Kent State won its 1st NCDA tournament. And due to the wins from the tournament it was the 1st time Kent has ever been ranked 1st in the NCDA. I’m proud of our team, as well as the NCDA for gaining three more teams that will continue to contribute and shape the NCDA of the future. We look forward to crossing paths with these teams again!

Kent State Co-Captain,
Kyle FitzPatrick

Season Preview 2012 – Round 2

Kent State Dodgeball’s Kyle FitzPatrick

Top 3 matches we want to play: DePaul, UK, OSU (T), BG (T)
Teams we haven’t seen in awhile: GVSU, MSU, Miami OH, UoL, WIU
Teams I have never played: MBI, UWP

1. How many players are returning for your team?
Kent is fortunate that nearly all of its players are returning. With the exception of the mighty King USSH. However several of our players have picked up additional obligations outside of Dodgeball. Resulting in some changes in leadership. Matt Klembara stepped down as Co Captain, a void now being filled by Ryan Menn. However our team is now mainly veterans so finding young blood is vital this year.

2. What strengths/weaknesses do you anticipate going into the season?
We have a very different style than most teams, and we have a core of veteran dodgeballers that have played together for years and some young players with raw talent. Some of our weakness is scheduling conflicts, different priorities in the game, and hangovers

3. What are the areas you’ll look to improve when scouting new players?
We plan on being more active in recruitment this year. And have already had 254 freshman sign a sheet of interest. We hope to find freshman that are more athletic than Kent players traditionally have been. But all new recruits must have the heart of a dodgeballer.

4. What are you goals for this season?
To play Dodgeball. Against fellow dodgeballers. In general see a better spirit to the game. Faceshots. Good times. Etc. Another goal is I want to see every game finished this year! Play out the last point. Whether we are down 1 game or 11 Kent will always play out the game, I hope every team will show us that respect as well.

5. Why should other teams be scared to play you?
We have plenty of raw talent on the court. Even without ball counting strategies and team throws we could pull some upsets.

6. Which teams would you like to play?
ELE means everybody love everybody. But EPE means everybody play everybody. We will play anyone. But since that is a generic answer here’s some more breakdown.

DePaul Dodgeball’s Brian Weinert

DePaul’s tournament showings last season found the Court Jesters contending with the league giants.  While maintaining undisputed Jesterdom, DePaul also showed that their antics and goofy shenanigans are not compensation for lack of skill, but rather the result of apathy towards their own more serious abilities.  In short, we saw that when the gloves come off DePaul holds their ground. Although the club lost many adored senior veterans, the new lineup of officers who took up the torch exemplify a bright future for the club, or at least one consistent with what is expected.  The new officers: President- Mick Cielesz; Vice to the President- Brian Weinert; Secretary-Troy Dixon; Treasurer- Brandon Polaskey.  The opening night turnout was good, and freshmen recruitment seems more promising than it has been in years.

Goals for the year are few but attainable.  DePaul plans to attend as many tournaments as logistically and financially possible, and to shape our Freshmen into dodgeball-wielding machines of inflated rubber death before the advent of the first tournament.  DePaul’s other goals remain congruous with their attitude: have more fun than anyone else in the league (all challengers welcome), remain undefeated (piece of cake), and regain possession of the fabled “Moustache Ball”.  EMU, we will have our Moustache Ball, make no mistake.  DePaul has the heavy task of making up for lost senior talent with freshmen recruits.  But, already judging by the new talent, which can only improve, the Court Jesters are looking forward to a great season of showing the rest of the league how to really play dodgeball.

With all due respect and friendly competitiveness,

– Brian Weinert, V.P. #24

Season Preview 2012 – Round 1

GVSU Laker Dodgeball’s Mark Trippiedi

A vast majority of the Laker roster in 2012 will be more or less the same as in 2011. GVSU graduated 4 seniors Jimmy Stokes, Caleb James, Jeff Olsen, and Greg Trippiedi from its 2nd place finish at nationals last season. In particular, losing previous captain Jimmy Stokes and Senior Caleb James is going to hurt. It’s hard to replace great players. With that said, GVSU does not enter 2011-12 hurting for throwing arms, athleticism, or roster depth. Pending a strong incoming freshman class, the complete turnover of Grand Valley State University’s Dodgeball Club from it’s first generation (2005-2010) to it’s second generation (2011-) has pretty much already occurred.

In 2011-12 team will be led by Sophomore Mark Trippiedi. Trippiedi will have the luxury and ability to lean heavily on seniors for additional guidance. The group of fourth years is all that remains in terms of starters from the last GVSU National Championship (09-10).

Many would think that Grand Valley will be down a little this year after the graduation of All 3 captains from last season as well as another senior. However the youth in the club from previous years has continued to gain experience as well as improve their skills. So with a talented group of juniors and sophomores, along with the National Championship winning experience of the 4th years. GV Dodgeball will not miss a beat and will expect to appear in the clubs 7th National Championship appearance, and compete for their shot at a 5th National Championship

MSU Dodgeball’s Sam Hiller

Coming off of back to back Final Four appearances, Michigan State has an even higher goal this season- winning a National Championship. The Spartans only lose one player, and are expecting to bring in another great Freshman class like they have the past few seasons. Sophomore Mike Van Ermen says “There is no reason with the talent we have returning that we shouldn’t be able to bring home the trophy.” MSU also brings back all six All-Stars. While former captains Ian Childs and Cameron Massmino will still be playing, a new group of captains will be leading the charge this year for State, Assistant Captains Andy Malnor and Andrew Koczara and Head Captain Sam Hiller.

Along with winning a National Championship this year, MSU has a few other goals. Among them are playing more games than they did last season (when they played 20 matches), winning the Michigan Dodgeball Cup, beating Central Michigan and Grand Valley State, and winning the MSU Invite for the second straight season. Van Ermen wants another shot at GVSU and CMU, saying “Not only are they the best teams in the league, they’re also a lot of fun to play and really respectable guys.” Juniors Alex Acton and Will Hack also want the Spartans to play some out of state schools. “I’ve been wanting to play OSU since I’ve joined but we haven’t had the chance yet. They’re a good team but we can definitely beat them. Overall it would be a good match for both teams” says Acton. Hack says “Everyone wants to play Depaul, they are supposed to be the most fun. I’d also like to play the far-away teams, like K-State and Nebraska.” Hack also thinks that “the NCDA is playing the highest level of dodgeball played” right now, which means that the 2011-2012 season has the potential to be the best yet.

Nationals 2011… CMU!

Lifted from Aleks Bomis’ [MSU Alum] Facebook

I’m smiling ear to ear about dodgeball this week. I’m smiling because the best run tournament in College Dodgeball’s seven years of existence took place this past weekend.

And I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it.

I’ve always been pretty concerned about where the organization was headed, what it was working towards. I invested a lot of time in it. It and the people who comprise it will forever be a part of me. The leadership and development that went on in the first few years got me accepted into a Top 20 MBA program and Top 100 law school. I’m proud of that and always will be. Dodgeball is on my resume, and I will unabashedly tell interviewers where it’s at and how it got started. Operations, recruitment, administration, marketing – it sounds silly (and it is), but when you add up the manpower and the revenue required to operate the National Tournament (think of all the hotel money), that’s a major accomplishment that most young people don’t have. The group means a lot to me.

I guess that’s probably why I was less than happy with the way things seemed to be headed in the NCDA last year. Things got more competitive and tense, abuse of officials led to officials not caring led to abuse of officials, the concept of winning seemed to outpace the concept of playing this ridiculous game developed by sadistic gym teachers… maybe it’s that I’m from Michigan where the more determined teams and players are, I don’t know. In any case, it eventually came to a head and I thought, “To hell with it. If this is how it’s going to be, I’m out.” That’s when a nice thing happened: the NCDA moved on without much disruption. From rules administration to tournament operations to keeping the peace or anything else, there’s not one thing where I am or would be indispensable. In the early days there weren’t many people committed to the idea of making this crazy idea work. Most of it fell to me. Not that I minded it – heck, it was more to add to my resume. Now there are schools from all over the country and plenty of people each year who have both the skill set and the desire to keep this going. College Dodgeball has reached critical mass. No situation exists today where I’d think “Oh, I need to handle that.” And if you’re not needed, well, you’re probably not wanted either. Maybe the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” has some truth to it. You either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Hey, could’ve been worse – I might’ve been forced out like Mubarak in Egypt.

I’ll cut the maudlin and just line up a few thoughts I wish I had the time or forethought to say to people when I see them in person.

Let’s take the big one first: To the teams that think I hate them – I don’t. Sure, you may have a couple current or former players I don’t or didn’t care for, but nine times out of ten a negative remark about them was immediately followed with “I don’t get it, the rest of ’em seem like nice guys.” Same applies in reverse, people can dislike me and like Team MSU in general. It always comes down to people.

I’ve never tried to screw a team over as an official. I’ll go a step further with that: I don’t think any official has ever intentionally tried to fix a dodgeball game played between grown men and women. Have I ever made remarks to the contrary? Darn straight. The majority of people reading this have as well, however, so don’t act surprised that The Old Man shoots his mouth off like everybody else. Doesn’t it make it right, and for that I apologize.

Sometimes you (I) need to just shut up and let others try things instead of going “No no, I know better, do it this way.” For example, there might be a skills competition or an all-star game or something else that makes this whole idea better.

Last, and certainly not least, the leadership you all collectively show is phenomenal. That’s the one concept I have difficulty trying to explain to outsiders – that college kids will put time, effort, and thought into how to better organize the activity of striking each other with vulcanized rubber. There are many sport club leagues in existence. Few have as solid a base as the NCDA. None are wholly student-operated.

As for where this takes me from here, I dunno. I’d like to put together an alumni production team to shoot and commentate games in Michigan and maybe Ohio. That’s one area where I do have a leg up on most of the NCDA – being an MSU Athletics cameraman for three years has its benefits beyond the field pass. Eh, we’ll see what happens next year. The facilities have gotten progressively better each year, and a brand new Ryder Center ought to be a great tournament site in 2012.

Now if someone can just start a team at the University of Michigan I could die happy…

Reply, 13 April 2011
Greg Trippiedi [GVSU]

I was kind of where Bomis was a year ago, didn’t know where the NCDA was headed and didn’t know whether the Michigan teams would be able to turn over their rosters entirely and remain competitive. GVSU’s club is about 40% of the size of when I first got there, but the sheer size of the club and the fan base has proven to the only thing unsustainable about it. What we accomplished this year was a complete turnover of the old guard to a new team built almost entirely of Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshman. There’s no doubt in my mind that if GVSU played zero seniors next season (and our three or four best players will probably be seniors), they would still be first or second in the state of Michigan, and that means we’ve done our job to turn the program over away from players who won the four championships. To bring home the hardware in a transitional year would have been great, but we still exceeded all of our own expectations, except that one.

The work that Josh and Felix (and everyone, really) have done down at WKU has made all the difference. The first time they ever played us (Oct. 2007, @UK), Felix was still in high school, and their club was two months old and we were at the very peak of our dominance as a program. It was hard to imagine after that game what they would do with that program, but really, the NCDA was pretty close to becoming a regional thing instead of a national one, and I have to credit Western Kentucky exclusively for changing that course. If this years nationals is the point at which we look back at non-Michigan teams starting their run of becoming title contenders, so much the better. Kentucky looks like it can become a college dodgeball hotbed. UofL isn’t good right now, but they have a much better chance of becoming good with WKU and UK around them to play against.

If someday, Kentucky and Michigan are two regions where all the teams are really good, then the NCDA can matter on a national level. For any team east of the Mississippi River, a quality opponent would never be more than a few hours away. A lot has changed in a year, and it’s pretty much all been very promising.

AJP #18

Average Joes' Podcast LogoIt’s our second Newton-free podcast in a row! With the Big Giant Ego an hour away, Felix and Alex recap the UK Invitational, Chicago Dodgeball Open and Michigan Dodgeball Cup. Our hosts also discuss how to run a tournament, preview the new teams coming to Nationals 2011 and bask in the glory of the biggest tournament in NCDA history.

Play

Turn Games into Fundraisers

I was watching an NBA game today when the idea for this column hit me.

During the game, the announcers were talking about how the players wanted to use their position as professional athletes to give back to the community. Mike Breen actually said it was their “responsibility” to do so. It was that particular word that got me thinking.

It isn’t Kobe Bryant status as an NBA player that carries this obligation, as countless musicians, actors and politicians have also devoted hours to benefiting their communities in some way. Instead, it is his platform that necessitates such a responsibility. It is the chance to stand out and be recognized that demands both self-focused and selfless behavior.

This moment of understanding capped off the snowball that had been gathering in my head the last few months. If you have a platform, I realized, you should use to benefit others as well as yourself. Sure, it’s a simple message. But like voting, countless people applaud the merit of giving back but then fail to participate themselves.

Here’s the reason I mention all of this: as college dodgeball players, we have the same platform as everyone else, from Kobe to Kanye to Katie Holmes. It’s not the same size platform reserved for those superstars, but it does exist and carries the same responsibility of its bigger counterparts. While our teams can’t give back millions, we can give back something more proportionate to our meager budgets and limiting status as a niche sport.

As president of Western’s team, I stress the importance of giving back in some way. In my three years at the helm, we’ve had some good opportunities to do that through the Battle of the Bluegrass, the charity tournament for St. Jude and our upcoming Clash of the Commonwealth at the end of this month. In fact, it’s my hope that we’ll raise $4,000 through these three events by semester’s end.

What some teams might fail to realize is that only of those events required extensive planning on our part. The other two only require us to show up and play. So, whether you’re GVSU and have 80 players or Miami and have only 8, fundraising is an option that’s always on the table. Those teams that actively fundraise do so because they’ve recognized two things: how important it is to give back and how many opportunities there are to do so.

Let me explain. During my sophomore year at Western, my major concern was putting a team together that would show up to play consistently. Fundraising wasn’t even on my radar at that point. But then I got a message from UK’s former captain Errol Strauss that basically said, “Hey, come play us at Butler County High School to raise money for their after-prom program. We did it last year, and it’s a lot of fun!” Of course, I agreed, and without even trying, our team was given a chance to raise money for a good cause.

When game day arrived, Western and UK played a game that counted toward their records and Butler Co. HS made over $1,000. After the game, we were met with adoration and an invitation to do the same thing the next year. Kids cheered us from the stands and wanted our autographs afterward. All of that happened just because we showed up to play.

The first Battle of the Bluegrass had a big effect on me. Before I’d even seen an impact on Western’s campus, our team had made a difference in the lives of those Barren County folks. The game helped me see that just because we were a small fish in a small pond, didn’t mean that Western Dodgeball couldn’t use its tiny platform to give back.

I started paying attention to the multitude of causes that needed support on campus and in town, and the results were astounding. In just one year, there were hundreds of causes and fundraising events that needed support. Check it out next time you read the newspaper, pass by the bulletin board in your dorm or get on Facebook. Once you start looking, the opportunities are almost endless.

That being said, the easiest way I think the NCDA can help give back is through playing. While hosting events like Western’s charity tournament and Kent State’s tournament for Haiti is nice, teams don’t even have to put in that much work.

My suggestion is to pick a game on your schedule and talk to a high school in your area about making the game a fundraiser for the cause of their choice. Assuming most of the players attended high school in the state where they go to college, each team has a nice base of about 10-15 schools where connections exist. Pitching the game shouldn’t be hard if you say something like, “You can do something cliché like a car wash to raise money, or you can host a college dodgeball game and entice spectators with a sport they thought only Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller play.” Trust me, they’ll see the light.

Once schools agree, they’ll form a little committee to decide on logistics and promotional ideas. They’ll call each team if they have questions or need to run something by them. In the meantime, captains get to focus on practicing instead of planning for a home event. A few months later, both teams will drive to the host school, turn in their rosters and play. The game will be unlike anything they’ve played in before because it’s a packed house and the crowd thinks every headshot and diving catch is the coolest thing ever. Kids will ask for autographs after the game and teams will be fed pizza for their trouble.

Tell me what part of that last paragraph didn’t sound like something you’d want your team to do? I thought so. No worries, either – this isn’t some gimmick I’m proposing. There’s no catch. Raising money can be that easy and fun for everyone involved. In fact, it’s my hope that someday all NCDA games will be played as fundraisers.

Wouldn’t that be putting our platform to good use?